Mystery stains on my laundry

neetsiepieFebruary 16, 2010

I am so fed up with these stupid mystery stains. They show up AFTER I've taken the clothes out of the dryer, once the stains are set.

I recently bought a new washer & dryer, so the machines aren't the cause. I've tried all types of laundry detergent I like Tide and also use Kirkland brand (I think it's Tide for Costco) and I tried using that new tide stain booster stuff.

These oily stains appear regardless if I use fabric softener, dryer sheets or nothing at all. The only items these spots don't show up is on the whites, which I use chlorine bleach on.

I've looked at my clothes before putting them in the washer, and pre-treat if I see something, but a lot of the time, there is nothing special that I can see. For some reason, the stains seem to show up on MY clothes, not DH's.

Does anyone have any ideas? I'm willing to try something because I've ruined so many shirts with these oily spots.

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Since you said they were oily, I'd ask this over in Laundry forum too (if you've not been there it's a whole lot more in-depth than just dirty clothes talk ;). Almost sounds to me like there is a leak in one of your new machines. :/

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 6:41AM
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Oh Pesky, I agree with moonshadow, the first thought that came to mind is a leak in the machine.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 8:00AM
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I found this information that might be helpful.

Why am I getting grease/oil stains on my clothes after I wash them?
The 1995 and newer washer transmission design makes it impossible for oil from transmission to get into washer and splatter on clothing. Most of the time it is caused by splatters from cooking oil. Stains from foods or cooking oils, sometimes called "invisible stains", may not be noticed as you put clothes in the washer. If not completely removed in the wash cycle, the oily spots may pick up dirt from wash water making the spots visible. The washer does not cause these spots.

To prevent:
Wash garments as soon as practical after wearing, using more detergent than normal and the hottest wash water fabric can stand.

To correct:
Rub in undiluted detergent, let stand 30 minutes and rewash, using hottest water fabric can stand.
If your water is extremely hot, 150 degrees or higher, the water inlet hose(s) could start to break down, causing black greasy stains on clothes. Refer to the Owner's Manual for your water heater, set the temperature accordingly, and replace the inlet hose(s).

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 8:10AM
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I have started using Lestoil on grease stains. That and the hottest water the clothing can stand usually works. It is saving my T-shirts from my forgot-to-put-on-an-apron cooking techniques.

Also agree that the laundry geeks incredibly knowledgeable folks over at the Laundry Forum can be a huge source of info and assistance.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 8:21AM
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The 1995 and newer washer transmission design makes it impossible for oil from transmission to get into washer and splatter on clothing.

Could be coming from somewhere else other than transmission. I dunno, but I do know some leak "stuff" frm somewhere. Reason I say this is my machine (Whirlpool Calypso, but mine is Kenmore version, abt 6 yrs old give or take) apparently became notorious for leaking black oily gunk onto clothing. (As it happens I picked up that tidbit in Laundry Forum here.) I got a little freaked and so kept watch, but so far (fingers crossed) have not had that issue. Thankful because it's out of extended warranty now. So that's why I suggested something is leaking. Laundry forum would for sure know which models have known issues with potential leaking, or at least if pesky's model could somehow leak.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 8:55AM
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But if she's seeing these stains only on her clothes, and not on DH's, I'd doubt it's a machine problem if Pesky's washing his clothes in the machine, too.

Are you seeing it only on some of your clothes and not others? Could the type of fabric be holding in more stains? Like perhaps there's some lycra or linen content?

Are the stains in the same general area? Maybe you have a tendency to always get a salad dressing drip in the same spot but don't always realize you've done it? (For me, it never fails that when I'm wearing a new shirt, a spaghetti sauce or salad dressing drip will hit it.)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 8:55AM
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Sometimes there are stains on clothing prior to putting them in the wash, but we just don't notice them until after they've been washed and dried. I've taken to checking over DH's shirts very carefully before tossing them into the machine (mine, too, but usually not as problematic as his!). Any darkish spots get a small squirt of Dawn dishwashing liquid (original) and sometimes a spritz of Shout. Usually takes care of the stain/spot on the first try. For stubborn grease stains, or ones that I missed on the first wash and don't notice 'til the item is dry, I treat again with Dawn + Shout, and re-wash.

I've even treated old stains with some success. Once in awhile (really stubborn or old stains) it takes three attempts with the Dawn.

I try to smoosh the Dawn into the fabric a bit before or as I'm tossing the item into the machine.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 9:41AM
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Try adding a scoop of Oxiclean to your laundry. That stuff is amazing. Costco has a $4. off Oxiclean coupon right now.

I don't move without an apron.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 12:47PM
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I have this problem too. It's not the machine. I'm just a messy person. I try to pretreat before washing and drying but don't always catch everything. When that happens I'll catch it while folding or hanging after drying. I toss these items aside and when finished putting clothes away, I'll go back and saturate each spot with Shout it Out and let it work until I wash again. Of course if the fabrics are delicate, you might want to test it first and not process as long. I don't have that problem because "delicate" is not something I would choose to wear.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 1:22PM
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Thanks for the tip about the Dawn. I know it's not the machine because I had this problem with my old machine, too.

I generally wear T-shirts (my job is UBER casual) and a few rayon/cotton blend sweaters. The spots generally are on my chest, so it's probably something that is spilling. I never realized you could get stains out after they'd been through the dryer, but believe me, I'm willing to try the Dawn treatment.

I'd tried Oxyclean but never was thrilled, but may try that again too. It's all a lot cheaper than buying new clothes!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 10:38PM
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This may not be helpful, but I had a sort of similar situation a few years back. I kept finding the same round stain -- basically an outline of a circle -- on my shirts in about the same place. I could not figure out where they were coming from. DH and I were calling them "crop circles". Finally, I realized that when I used the can of Pam spray for cooking, when I put the cover back on the can, I was holding the bottom of the can up against my waist/stomach area. Really stupid. I had to toss a bunch of shirts because of that!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 11:24PM
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Dawn is really good for oil/grease based stains. You might try a little ammonia (may need to dilute).

I never wear an apron. I just can't work in them - I'm pretty much the same way about gloves too. Oh well!


    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 8:14AM
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Too funny about that Pam circle. I forget to wear my aprons when I cook, but do remember them when doing DIY or gardening...

I think my stains may be coming from my coffee. I've noticed that because we use whole beans and grind them, there is an oily sheen in my cup. But I don't see coffee spills. Hmmm, and I just had a thought...the seatbelt! There could be something oily on it that is picking up on my shirts. I have a cover on mine, but DH uses my truck a lot and lord only knows what he might have on his hands.

Well, I'm going to try to Dawn treatment tonight when I do a load of laundry and I'll report back.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 8:51AM
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I originally tried Dawn because it was always advertised as being great for getting rid of grease (on dishes)--in the old commercials they'd squeeze a droplet of Dawn into a container filled with greasy water and voila! I don't use it on dishes BTW, didn't like it for handwashing, but was happily surprised by how well it did on grease/oil stains on clothing. I needed to try something after I couldn't find Grease Relief anymore.

Again, it might take more than one treatment/wash, and some stains just won't come out completely (esp the older ones), but it's always worth a try. I've saved more of DH's shirts than I can count! :-)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 9:18AM
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Have you thought about air drying your shirts? The stains will be much easier to get out if they haven't been through the dryer. It is a mystery why you can't see the stains until AFTER the shirts are dried. Do try to treat the stains after the fact. You may be happily surprised.

Let us know if you figure what you keep throwing on yourself. : )

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 3:12PM
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